The “OWN A LOT/OWN THE BLOCK” initiative reimagines old revitalization models with one aimed at giving residents perks and tax-related benefits. St. Louis has a plethora of vacant properties. Simply put, new landowners should be provided incentives, like large developers, to turn vacant land into food-producing properties. This proposal encourages the gifting of unoccupied land in targeted disadvantaged neighborhoods to city residents.
This is an effort to kick start a movement based on community buy-in and local nonprofit collaboration. The goal is to ignite a new economic engine where vested landowners can generate revenue in their own neighborhoods. The challenge is to create a network of local nonprofits already involved in educating and helping residents secure land and grow food. Adding HSSU to the collaboration means young people can secure a bachelor’s degree in urban ecology and use their skills in neighborhoods that desperately need fresh, sustainable revenue streams.
OWN-a-LOT/OWN-The-Block Community Discussion / 02-08-2020
Successful promotion, collaboration and implementation of this model has the potential to create a new template for urban development. If we can get a new generation excited, engaged and economically empowered through hard work and ownership in their own neighborhoods, I believe we can stir great, sustainable change in our region.
If successful, the “OWN A LOT/OWN THE BLOCK” initiative can be expanded to help city residents and potential entrepreneurs become home and business owners. Imagine the 3,000-plus NGA employees shopping at diverse and eclectic businesses, enjoying art and cultural spaces and dining at neighborhood eateries just north of downtown St. Louis.
This is an all-hands-on-deck appeal. I am at your service to expound on the merits of this model and, hopefully, garner your support. Please feel free to contact me for additional information and/or your ideas about getting involved and implementing the program.
Last year, SPP secured two vacant lots through Grace Hill Settlement House in the College Hill Neighborhood. Those lots were gifted to a young mother, Tara Blanchard, who’s seeking to grow food. We then reached out to Gateway Greening to serve as the resource agency for new landowners. Our goal in 2020 is to work with more nonprofits and gift more land and resources to individuals to establish a model that city leaders can fund, expand and replicate.